WELCOME to the “Hermon A. MacNeil” — Virtual Gallery & Museum !

~ This Gallery celebrates Hermon Atkins MacNeil of the Beaux Arts School, an American classic sculptor of Native images and American history:  ~ World’s Fairs, statues, monuments, coins, and more… ~ Hot-links ( lower right) lead to works by Hermon Atkins MacNeil.   ~ Over 300 stories in 50 pages & thousands of photos form this virtual MacNeil Gallery stretching from New York to New Mexico ~ Oregon to S. Carolina.   ~ 2016 marked the 150th Anniversary of Hermon MacNeil’s birth. ~~Do you WALK or DRIVE by MacNeil sculptures DAILY!  ~ CHECK OUT Uncle Hermon’s works here!

Daniel Neil Leininger, webmaster

DO YOU walk by MacNeil Statues and NOT KNOW IT ???

Search Results for "moody"

Hermon MacNeil sculpted this bust of Dwight L. Moody a century ago during the Flu Pandemic of 1919.   

One hundred years later (In 2019), I visited that MacNeil work in Sage Chapel on site at the Moody’s Northfield Seminary

The photo below records that visit.

Dwight L. Moody by Hermon MacNeil (1919). The century-old work rests Sage Chapel on site at the Moody’s Northfield Seminary. 

 

 

 

 

Click HERE for: Our first Discovery of Hermon MacNeil’s bronze bust of Evangelist Dwight L. Moody (1920) ~ “We Found It, Uncle Hermon!”

On June 6, 1919, Northfield paid Honors to Moody at the 40th Anniversary Celebration of Founder’s Day in East Northfield, Mass. 

 The  four days of celebration included:

  • A Reception at the home of Principal C. E. Dickerson, Tuesday evening, marked the close of the commencement exercises and celebration of the 40th anniversary of the funding of Northfield Seminary. 
  • The Reunion of nearly five hundred former students and friends returned to Northfield.
  • The occasion honored the founder, Dwight L. Moody.
  • Moody’s youngest granddaughter, Margaret Moody, unveiled the portrait bust by pulling the draping off of her grandfather’s bronze likeness. 
  • Little Margaret is the daughter of  Chaplain Paul D. Moody, son of D. L. Moody and Head of Chaplains for the Allied Expeditionary Force (A.E.F).  
  • The bust is the gift of the alumnae and has graced Sage Memorial Chapel for over a century. 
  • Hermon MacNeil of New York sculpted the bust from a pencil drawing he made of Mr. Moody when the evangelist was in the vigor of his powers and from a death mask provided by the school.
  • MacNeil made the sketches at The Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. Moody organized  Sunday worship services held in the stadium built by William Cody for his “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.” NO SUNDAY SHOWS were allowed at the Fair.  So, Moody rented it from Cody on Sundays and packed it with fair attenders and local pastors and their congregationschurch
  • It was presented by Mrs. Helen M. Williams of New York City, President of the board of trustees of the Northfield schools.  Another token of the esteem in which Northfield graduates hold their alma mater was the gift of $600 from the class of 1914.

This digital file of the article from the September 1919 issue of the Northfield Alumnae Chronicle is a treasure trove of background information.

  1. The bust was a gift of the Alumnae Association. Many small donations.
  2. Johnson’s presentation speech cites conversations with MacNeil. It is a wonderful piece of Northfield history and affection for Mr. Moody 20 years after his death. .
  3. MacNeil attended one of D. L. Moody’s Meetings in Chicago ( MacNeil was there between 1890-95).
  4. MacNeil made a hasty sketch of Moody at that meeting. He kept his sketch for years. 
  5. MacNeil created the bust of Moody and afterward told the alumnae (Mrs. Johnson (?)) the story of making the sketch.
  6. The bust was presented at a service in Sage Chapel.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1919Jun7-RDC-MoodyBust

 

SOURCES:

  1. Lost New England (retrieved 4-17-2021) [https://lostnewengland.com/category/massachusetts/northfield-massachusetts/]
    East Northfield, Mass. June 6, (1919)
  2. ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE.  Saturday, June 7, 1919

 

Related Images:

 

Bust of Dwight L. Moody, Evangelist, made by MacNeil in 1920 for the  Mount Hermon Academy in Northfield, assachusetts

Bust of Dwight L. Moody, Evangelist, made by MacNeil in 1920 for the Mount Hermon Academy in Northfield, assachusetts

At age 78 Hermon MacNeil wrote an autobiographical sketch in June 1943 from his home in College Point.   A copy of it is in the MacNeil Papers at the Cornell Library Archives.  My sister, Melba, found a copy in mother’s family files.

Only 13 typed pages in length, MacNeil’s Sketches provides brief reflections on his life and a listing of his sculptures.   The list catalogues 42 pieces that he made in his nearly fifty years as a sculptor.  One very brief entry says simply:

“D. L. Moody. Northfield University, Mass., 1920”

MacNeil’s mention of a sculpture of D. L. Moody was my first awareness that he had ever done such a piece.   

Searching the internet I found TWO photos (one on the right and another larger one below). They both come from the Northfield Mount Hermon (Click HERE)  website.  The school is a merger of the two academies for poor and underprivileged children (one for girls and one for boys) that Moody founded in 1879 and 1881. A  brief history of the school can be found on Wikipedia. [Click Here].

MORE below photo:

"Dwight L. Moody" 1920 - A bust by Hermon Atkins MacNeil now graces the campus of Northfield Mount Hermon academy in Massachusetts. The school is a merger of the two separate academies (one for girls and one for boys) that Moody founded in 1879 and 1881

“Dwight L. Moody” 1920 – A bust by Hermon Atkins MacNeil now graces the campus of Northfield Mount Hermon academy in Massachusetts. The school is a merger of the two separate academies (one for girls and one for boys) that Moody founded in 1879 and 1881

While I await confirmation from NMH, this undoubtedly appears to be the work referenced by Hermon in his autobiograhical sketches as a 78 year old man. While finding ‘undiscovered’ works by Hermon MacNeil over the last 3 years, has been one recurring delight of building this website, I never cease to be amazed when I find one.  This particular discovery seems amazing for several reasons:  

  • Both of my Parents (Rev. Louis Lee Leininger, Sr. and Ollie McNeil Leininger) attended Moody Bible institute in Chicago in 1926-28.
  • I never heard my parents ever mention this sculpture.
  • If my mother knew of  “Uncle Hermon’s” bust of Dr. Moody, she would have mentioned it , repeatedly!
  • To my knowledge, my parents never visited in Massachusetts, never saw, or ever knew of this piece.
  • This is a one of a kind piece. Thus hard to find in a private school. Not known to the general public.
  • I have no information on how it was commissioned, or how Hermon MacNeil became connected with this project.

 STAY TUNED !  There has got to be MORE.   I will let you know as soon as I find it. 

ENJOY these lovely close-ups from the NMH website!!!

 

 

Related Images:

2024

“The  GALLEY”  has  arrived.

 

President Kenny McNeil on GALLEY #67 cover

MacNeil Clan Members world-wide are receiving the newest issue of  The GALLEY in their mail.

Pages 20-29 contain a ten page Feature Article on the Hermon MacNeil Biography.

This is the 1st-half of my summary of Jim Haas’ biography of Hermon MacNeil.  The 2nd-half will appear in the SPRING/SUMMER 2024 issue (#68).  

  Photos of his early life have been gathered.

 

Part Two of my summary will be

featured in the forthcoming Spring/Summer volume. 

The GALLEY subscription is included in the $40  annual membership in the Clan MacNeil. (or in the auto-renewal membership)

 

Kinship in the MacNeil Family is not required for membership OR receiving

The GALLEY  CLICK HERE

Related posts:

  1. Hermon MacNeil Featured in “The Galley” (9) “Clan MacNeil Connections and Hermon Atkins MacNeil” The current issue…
  2. Hermon Atkins MacNeil to be featured in “The Galley” (8.9) Hermon MacNeil was the first president of the Clan MacNeil…
  3. “THE GALLEY” will feature a Two Part summary of the Hermon MacNeil Biography.. (8.7)        Happy New Year      2024 will welcome a…
  4. MacNeil’s Albany Monument ~ Winter Update (7.4) The Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Albany, NY   Joel…
  5. Hermon MacNeil’s bronze bust of Evangelist Dwight L. Moody (1920) ~ “We Found It, Uncle Hermon!” (6.6)   At age 78 Hermon MacNeil wrote an autobiographical sketch…
  6. February 27, 2021 – We”ll Unveil the Newly Discovered Portrait Bust of Hermon A. MacNeil by Jo Davidson on Hermon’s Birthday (6.6) ~~ MacNeil Month – February 27, 2021 ~~ FIFTH Story…

Related Images:

Categories : Location
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       Happy New Year   

 

2024 will welcome a new issue of

THE GALLEY.

THE GALLEY, (issue #47, for Fall/Winter 2023) arrives in January 2024.  It will feature a summary of the first half of the recent biography of Hermon Atkins MacNeil.  This book, (researched, written, and published) by James Haas has been previewed several times here since its release in November 2022.

THE GALLEY is the official magazine of the Clan MacNeil Association of America edited by Vicki Sanders Corporon.  As a teen she assisted her mother, Nellie McNeill Sanders, who was then Editor.  Ever since, they continued the mother/daughter labors leading to Vicki following her mother as Editor. 

Under Vicki’s watch  THE GALLEY has grown into a bound full-color volume published semi-annually.  It is mailed world-wide to all members  of the Association as a privilege of membership.

MEMBERSHIP:  You may join the Clan MacNeil Association (CLICK HERE)  with or without kinship.  You will enjoy receiving and reading  THE GALLEY.

GALLEY of Spring/ Summer 2014

My upcoming articles are the fourth and fifth that I have written for THE GALLEY. 1, 2, 3.    Part 2 will condense the second half of Haas’ book and be featured in the Spring/Summer issue of THE GALLEY. 

I enjoy writing for THE GALLEY and working with Vicki Corporon.  Many factors contribute to that pleasure:

  • Our travel through Scotland and Isle of Barra in 2014 has generated tremendous knowledge, imagery, and appreciation for my Scottish heritage (MacNeil and McKay).
  • My 14 years as Webmaster of this website has allowed me to produce nearly 300 postings.  My reading, research, photography, and travel have become my retirement career.
  • My collaboration with James E. Haas through these years AND his continued research and publication of the Hermon MacNeil Biography  have produced parallel research heightening public interest and awareness of  Hermon Atkins MacNeil.

    Roger Bow with his MacNeil Medallion at the MacNeil Flushing Memorial NYC (8-23-2020)

  • I’ve spent the last decade traveling and photographing monuments, statues, and  geography associated with MacNeil’s life and accumulated a database of resources for my writing.
  • Through the website, I have met so many MacNeil descendants and enthusiasts (I call them my “Friends of https://HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com)
  • My minting of the MacNeil Medallion commemorative in 2016 has increased knowledge and enthusiasm for Hermon Atkins MacNeil, the Standing Liberty Quarter. 
  • 2016 MacNeil Medallion marking the 150th Anniversary the birth of Hermon A. MacNeil. Commissioned by our webmaster, these numbered medals are available on eBay.  

     

    2016 MacNeil Medallion marking the 15th Anniversary of his birth. Available on eBay.

       

Articles in THE GALLEY by the Webmaster. ___

  1. Daniel Neil Leininger, “Clan MacNeil Connections and Hermon Atkins MacNeil.” THE GALLEY, SPRING/SUMMER 2014; Vol.VI, No. 48, Pages 1, 15-21.
  2. Daniel Neil Leininger, “100 Years Ago in New York City, Relatives United to Form the Clan MacNeil Association of America.” THE GALLEY, SPRING/SUMMER 2021; Vol.VI, No. 62, Pages 14-20.
  3. Daniel Neil Leininger, “Kisimul Castle: Centennial Stories”. THE GALLEY, FALL/WINTER 2021; Vol.VI, No. 63, Pages 12-22.

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  6. Hermon MacNeil’s bronze bust of Evangelist Dwight L. Moody (1920) ~ “We Found It, Uncle Hermon!” (5.6)   At age 78 Hermon MacNeil wrote an autobiographical sketch…

Related Images:

~ MacNeil Bust Exhibited in 1984 ~

Months after we unveiled the Hermon MacNeil bust in 2021,

I received word that this unique piece

was exhibited 

ONLY ONCE in its

75 year history.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1945 Jo Davidson modeled this bust of his teacher and had it cast in bronze.  It remains a UNIQUE piece ~~ meaning “one and only,

one of a kind

NO OTHER Castings

Were ever made”

This “sui generis” likeness of

Hermon Atkins MacNeil

was purchased in 2021 from the Estate of Jo Davidson through Joel Rosenkranz of Conner~Rosenkranz, of New York City.

On Fri, Jun 4, 2021, Joel sent the following:

Hi Dan –

I hope you have been well. I recently was looking through a key reference in American sculpture and came across the entry for the Davidson MacNeil which the Davidson Estate loaned to the Newark Museum many years ago for a survey exhibition on bronzes. I thought you would like to have this reference for your files.

Best,

Joel

I replied as follows:

Joel,  

We are well and entering into life and travel in more usual ways. 

Thank you for this document scan. I appreciate more history of this MacNeil bust. I will print it out and will study it over the weekend. 

It seems ironic that this little known portrait bust was used to illustrate a bio page of Jo Davidson. There are 100s of other candidates that could illustrate Jo’s life and work but his first teacher becomes the “show & tell” model for Jo Davidson’s work and style of portraits. 

I am enjoying having “Hermon” in our living room on a regular basis. I showed him to friends and posted this “icon” on my website for the world to SEE.

Greatly appreciate your continued support of my MacNeil obsession. Also, expanding my knowledge of the Davidson—MacNeil interface raises my understanding to exponential levels. >>>

“Your love and work with Beaux Arts and your “calling” with Janis to represent the Davidson Estate form a strong testimony to the love, passion, and talent of so many of these sculptors who are easily forgotten in the “modern “ era of abstractions offered as art.  (Forgive my bias to realism).”

Related posts:

  1. The Portrait “BUST” of HERMON A. MacNEIL ~ by Jo Davidson ~ Unveiled for MacNeil Month 2021 ~#5 (10.1) AT  LAST, the UNVEILING of the 75-YEAR-OLD PORTRAIT BUST OF…
  2. New Year Discovery: Another Bust by H. A. MacNeil (7.6) As we begin the New Year of 2021, we have…
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  4. Hermon MacNeil’s bust of “Lawyer Lincoln” Returns for its second century on the Illinois Circuit (7.2) Hermon MacNeil’s bronze bust of self-educated Illinois Lawyer Abe Lincoln…
  5. MacNeil’s Bust of John Stewart Kennedy ~ 100 Years Ago ~ THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY (7.1)  A BRIEF NOTE from the Webmaster:  “We did not discover…
  6. Hermon MacNeil’s bronze bust of Evangelist Dwight L. Moody (1920) ~ “We Found It, Uncle Hermon!” (6.8)  

Related Images:

Jo Davidson, Sculptor, 1937

Hermon Atkins MacNeil,  ~1934

Hermon MacNeil 

 

and Jo Davidson

 

1912   –   1929

 MacNeil Month ~ ~ Story #3   ~ ~ ~ ~

Feb. 2021 ~ “Two Careers”

BY 1912 JO DAVIDISON and HERMON MacNEIL

were parting ways artistically.

Hermon MacNeil continued making Historical Subjects, World’s Fairs, and Monuments as he had for 20 years (1893-1912). 

[ Photos and hot-links to MORE MacNeil works appear at the end of this post …⇓ ]

Jo Davidson after a decade of searching  and wandering, to fulfill some inner talent,

he discovered his “Sculptor Within.” 

 Review:        Jo  made repeated attempts (1903-7) at studying the “Beaux Arts” style at the Art Students League of New York, learning it “hands-on” in the MacNeil Studio with John Gregory, and Henri Crenier (and all their teasing), under the quiet tutelage of Hermon MacNeil.    Then actually traveling to Paris without scholarship or support to enroll in the actual  Ecole des Beaux-Arts.  

BUT … LEAVING THERE after 3 weeks because he sensed that Beaux Arts was training him to sculpt “Antiquities”    WHEN he wanted to “SCULPT LIFE.”

Jo Davidson

In 1909 before coming back to New York City, Jo married Yvonne de Kerstrat, a French actress and sister of an artist friend, Louis de Kerstrat.  Their son Jacques was born the next year.

The next several years were very productive for the sculptor.  His figural works included a bronze statuette of Ida Rubinstein and an eight-foot bronze La Terre. 

ONE-MAN SHOWS X 3.    In 1911 Jo began presenting one-man shows.  The first opened in the New York in April, then a second more successful one at Reinhardt Galleries in Chicago in November.  This included twenty portraits and twenty figures.  A third show in New York opened in January 1913 with twenty-two figural works and fifteen portraits.  With this growing success in both reputation and finances, Jo could now keep two studios — one in New York and another in Paris. 

69th Regiment Armory on Lexington Ave. on-street parking New York City

The Armory Show 1913

Also in 1913, Davidson exhibited in the Armory Show, also known as The International Exhibition of Modern Art.  This three-city exhibition started in New York City’s 69th Regiment Armory on Lexington Ave.  From there it traveled to the Art Institute of Chicago and next to Boston’s Copley Society.  

Walt Kuhn, American painter, and a friend of Jo Davidson, was an organizer of the famous Armory Show which was America’s first large-scale introduction to European Modernism in Art.  Working with Arthur B. Davies and Walter Pach, Kuhn spent a year, much of it in Europe assembling a collection The exhibition traveled to New York City, Chicago, and Boston and was seen by approximately 300,000 Americans. Of the 1,600 works included in the show, about one-third were European, and attention became focused on them. The selection was almost a history of European Modernism.[https://www.britannica.com/event/Armory-Show-art-show-New-York-City#ref126367]

“Kuhn and Davies had both studied in Europe and developed a strong appreciation for the groundbreaking developments that were taking place there, particularly in Paris. Both also had ambitious dreams of altering the very fabric of American art and culture. The pair would be particularly instrumental in bringing a display of European art to U.S. shores—the likes of which most Americans had never seen before. With the same sprawling exhibition, they would also provide an opportunity for American artists that they had found so lacking in their own careers.”  [ https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-1913-armory-dispelled-belief-good-art-beautiful ]

The show’s sponsor, the Association of American Painters and Sculptors developed in 1911 with the aim of finding suitable exhibition space for young artists.  They found  ideals and policies of the National Academy of Design too restrictive to innovation.  The show introduced the American public accustomed to realistic art to the experimental styles sweeping Paris, namely, Fauvism, Cubism, and Futurism But most Americans arrived  expecting “real art,” namely, the “realistic” representations of the renaissance masters.  To these viewers the show was a puzzlement.  Observers responded with confusion, shock, or even anger at this “satire” of “real art.” 

Jo Davidson and the Armory Show.

The Armory show was labeled many things by American art critics.   Frank J. Mather argued that “Post-Impressionism is merely the “harbinger of universal anarchy.”  [1]   It overwhelmed American isolationism with an artistic invasion of a strange avant garde army of artists.  So to most Americans it was a puzzlement both in appearance and reporting afterward.  They came expecting “real art,” as “realistic” as the renaissance masters.  That was Art!  But “This?”  “What is this?”  Observers responded with confusion, shock, anger, and harsh words at this “satire” of “real art.” 

The 1913 Armory Show The International Exhibition of Modern Art opened on February 17, 1913 at the 69th Regiment Armory on Lexington Avenue. The Armory Show—as it came to be known—had an immediate and profound influence, introducing the avant-garde to America and forever altering the narrative of Modernism in America. Photograph by Percy Rainford, courtesy of Bettmann/Corbis. SOURCE: https://www.thearmoryshow.com/armory-25/one-fair-one-city ON 2-6-2021

Jo Davidson was no stranger to European Modernism. Such experiences of “the unconventional” were part of his strolls of Paris with Sultan by his side.  He loved his years on the Left Bank. This Bohemian world of the avant garde enlivened him.  It pleased and excited his imagination  Such images must have powered his search for that illusive “sculptor within.”  His search had gone on for over a decade. 

Davidson’s Impact: Jo Davidson appreciated this work, but was hardly a Modernist in his own creativity.   Yet he seemed to affect the Armory show in at least two ways:

  1. Walt Kuhn appreciated Jo Davidson works. He placed them cleverly throughout the display.  As such, they became benchmarks of understandable art next to some of the more unusual Modernist pieces.  “The artists who created them might know what they intended, but most of them weren’t there and many who were [there] were too shy or found talking too difficult.” 2 Each of Jo’s portrait busts and figures became an oasis of “real” sculpture in the confusing landscape of Modern Art.  Confused and puzzled viewers could wander the foreign art territory of the Armory Show and find occasional respite at a “Davidson” work of art. 
  2. In addition, Jo Davidson himself became an occasional ‘Docent’ at the Armory Show.  Lois Kuhn in her children’s biography of Davidson captures an anecdotal explanation that conveys the essence of Jo to her audience:  “Jo often visited the armory show himself and could easily explain to others not only his own work, but that of those artists unable to speak for themselves.  What a man with words Jo was!  Lois Kuhn offers this humorous ‘possible’ vignette to her young readers:
  • “Its outrageous.” a man protested, looking hard at one of the paintings.  “Whoever heard of ‘pink’ grass?
  • Jo chuckled.  “But you knew it was grass, didn’t you, sir?  It never once occurred to you that it wasn’t anything else, now did it?”
  • The man frowned.  “Well I don’t care.  I don’t like the darn thing anyway!”
  • “Nobody said you had to like it, sir, but if you dislike it, why not dislike it with a reason?”  Jo thought for a moment, then asked, “Have you ever noticed what colors the shadows on the snow are?”
  • The viewer was silent.  He was trying hard to remember.  Jo knew the man had probably never before bothered to think about such an ordinary thing, although he must have seen it hundreds of times.  “No I don’t think I have,” the man admitted, “Do you know?”
  • “They’re purple!  The artist looks and sees them so.  But so can you!  Or anyone else.  Just notice next time it snows.  Then try to think how it would be if the artist painted snow, making the shadows green.  You’d still know they were shadows, wouldn’t you?”
  • “Okay, you win!” the man sighed.  I see your point and you are right!”  He smiled, began to turn away, but suddenly turned back and winked at Jo.  “You know,”  he said strongly, “if more artists could explain things as you do, maybe plain people like me wouldn’t have so darn much trouble trying to find out what they’re up to!”
  • Jo grinned back.  He was happy knowing just one more person would be able to look at a piece of art and try really to understand it.”  2

infrared landscapes by richard mosse at the 2013 Armory Show. CREDIT: ‘platon, north kivu, eastern congo’, 2012all images courtesy jack shainman gallery.

Note: PINK GRASS at the 2013 Armory Show ~~~ Irish photographer Richard Mosse is celebrated for his striking imagery of eastern congo, and presents ‘infrared landscapes’ at the Armory Show in New York 100 years later from the 7-10 March, 2013.  “The photographs are full and rich – the arresting deep reds and crimson hues, candy floss trees and savanna grasses aflame with color. all these surreal elements created through a combination of an obsolete wooden field camera and a rare technique produced by kodak aerochrome, a product developed for military use in the detection of aerial bombing targets. in the late 1960s, the medium was appropriated in artwork for rock musicians like the grateful dead or jimi hendrix, setting the tone for the sublime psychedelic aesthetic of the time.”

Jo Davidson revels in “PORTRAIT BUST-ing” 

By the end of 1913 Davidson had done more than thirty portrait busts. He had a reputation for being “fast” and “good” at that craft.  The Davidson’s returned to France, with a second son, Jean, and found a house in Céret, which is near the border with Spain about 20 miles from the Mediterranean Sea.  His wife’s brother Louis de Kerstrat had purchased a small house there. More importantly, growing  reputation of Céret was as  “the refuge of Picasso, Matisse, Soutine and Chagall”   It would eventually be known as “the Mecca of the Cubists.” Moving there he met Picasso and Aristide Maillol.  Soon Jo was off to London which presented a wealth of opportunities for making portraits of notables. 

LORD NORTHCLIFFE 1913 by Jo Davidson. “Between …” p.54b.

“Portrait became an obsession. Meeting and knowing people meant becoming acquainted with their thinking.” Jo Davidson

From a studio in Thackery House he roved cafes, bars, watering holes seeing and being seen by journalists, authors, and celebrities.  His 1914 exhibition at Leicester Galleries included busts of newspaper mogul Lord Northcliffe, Frank and Nell Harris, and George Bernard Shaw.

 THE TASTE OF WAR 

When WWI broke out, Davidson wanted a place in the effort and through Lord Northcliffe was appointed an artist-correspondent to accompany veteran correspondent George Lynch.  The first went to Ostend, Belgium on the English Channel finding a “dead city.”  They went on east to Ghent climbing 194 steps in a church tower observing the battle of Grenberegen nearly 15 miles distant.  He didn’t enjoy it! 

Jo Davidison’s LIBERTY BONDS poster- THE GUT PUNCH.

He later tried to make sketches but without enthusiasm.  At an ambulance he met doctors and nurses who spoke no French and he was called over to translate.  He received word that their hotel in Ostend had been bombed and destroyed the day they left. 

The Germans were advancing and the British were retreating.  He saw a priest comforting a soldier with open severe facial wounds.  On the road back to Ostend he passed carts filled with old women, children and babies. People carrying pots and pans, a goat, a mattress, a chair, something they could not part with.  “War” was no longer just a word in the history books.

Heartsick, Jo returned to London wanting to do something in clay to express what he saw in France.  Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote three lines:

FRANCE AROUSED 1914 by Jo Davidson. [Between… p 86a.]

“When France in wrath her giant – limbs upreared, 

And with that oath, which smote air, earth, and sea,

Stamped her strong foot and said she would be free.”

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The result for Jo was “France Aroused.”

“It was a figure of Bellona,

the goddess of War,

with her feet squarely planted on the on the ground,

her arms upraised, fists clenched,

and her head thrown back —

a cry of rage and protest.”  [

Between …, p.11.]

 RETURNING TO Céret  — His Home was converted to a HOSPITAL  

On May 26, 1915, Yvonne offered their home in Céret as an auxiliary hospital, Bénévole No. 62 with 40 beds, two nurses and Yvonne in charge.  She was up at five A.M. and when all retired would pour over the books in the wee hours.  Their five-year-old son, Jacques, dressed in the uniform of a Chasseur Alpin presided at the head of the evening dinner table in a black baret the Apline hunters.

In 1916 Davidson returned to New York exhibiting fifty-five sculptures and war drawings at Reinhardt Galleries and in June modeled President Wilson.  He began to realize the historical value of his collection of works.  When the United States entered the War in 1917 Davidson decided to make a “plastic history” by modeling portraits of Allied civil and militrary chiefs.  So we left for France with funding from Gertrude Whitney and letters of reference from previous subjects.  The result — The Peace Conference Series — fourteen portraits of including General John J. Pershing (1918), Marshal Ferdinand Foch (1918), who signed his portrait beginning a tradition that Jo continued, Lord Arthur Balfour (1919), George Clemenceau (1920). 

1923 – Gertrude Stein  and Jo had met in 1909. He assessed that a head of her was not enough.  He decided  to do a seated figure — “a sort of a modern Buddha.” [Between …, 174-7.]

“Gertrude was a very rich personality.  Her wit and her laughter were contagfious.  She loved good food and served it.  While I was doing her portrait,  She would come around my studio with a manuscript  and read it aloud. The extraordinary part of it was that, as she read, I never felt any sense of mystification.  ‘A rose is a rose is a rose,’ she took on a different meaning with each inflection.  When she read aloud got the humor of it. We both laughed, and her laughter was something to hear.  There was an eternal quality about her — she somehow symbolized wisdom.”

 John D. Rockefeller 1924 

The only person Jo Davidson ever wrote to requesting to do a portrait bust was John D. Rockefeller.  One month later he received a Letter from his son, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. containing several questions. 

Jo Davidson and John D. Rockefeller modeling his portrait

Several days later John D, Jr. visited the studio with more questions and discussed all details of the venture.  A truck arrived carrying all of Davidson’s studio equipment to the Rockefeller Estate in Tarrytown, north of the city. 

On their meeting Rockefeller told Jo, “Davis … Davison … Davidson.”  The first was his secretary’s name, the second his own middle name, and finally Jo’s last name.  Rockefeller voiced the ironic trilogy and his usual “A-ll good.”  After meeting his new subject, Davidson, Jo entered into the daily routine and was invited to stay as a house guest rather that commute by train daily.  Jo’s descriptions of his time with the family patriarch and his storytelling are as illuminating as his sculpting.

When Jo finished, Rockefeller invited all the house staff to come in and see his fresh likeness.  “Come __ in,” he said.  “Take__ your__ time. Have a good look at it__ yes? A-ll good. Thank You.”

The son, John D. Jr., liked the finished bust so much that he  commissioned Jo to execute it in marble, and also to make a colossal head in stone to be put in the Standard Oil Building. 

1927 Pioneer Woman ~ Ponca City, OK ~ E.W. Marland

A reunion for Hermon and Jo and John Gregory.

CONFIDENT – The winning PIONEER WOMAN by Bryant Baker 

TRUSTING (1927) by Jo Davidson

CHALLENGING. 1927. Hermon MacNeil

SELF RELIANT by A. Stirling Calder

 

In 1927 wealthy oilman E. W. Marland of Ponca City, Oklahoma invited a dozen American sculptors to compete for a commission to create a statue to honor the Pioneer Woman.  Each artist was to submit a two-foot bronze model for the monument, which was to express, in Marland’s words, “the spirit of the pioneer woman—a tribute to all women of the sunbonnet everywhere.”  

PROTECTIVE by John Gregory

Marland’s selection of that dozen sculptors became something of a reunion for Jo Davidson[1] and Hermon MacNeil  and John Gregory (an earlier assistant with Davidson in MacNeil’s studio). Others invited were invited included  James Earle Fraser, Bryant Baker, and A. Stirling Calder.  Each of the dozen were paid $10,000 to produce a bronze two-foot statue model with the winner to be determined by public vote.

The models were sent on a six-month tour of several U.S. cities, from New York and Boston to Minneapolis and Fort Worth and Chicago. Tens of thousands of ballots were cast, and Baker’s model “Confident” won by a margin of nearly two to one. Neither MacNeil or his two previous students won the commission.

Bryant Baker’s entry won the final comission by a wide margin of ballots.  Each artist submitted a two-foot bronze model for the monument, which was to express, in Marland’s words, “the spirit of the pioneer woman—a tribute to all women of the sunbonnet everywhere.”

JO DAVIDSON STRIKES OIL

Jo Davidson charmed E. W. Marland so that he built a permanent studio for the sculptor in Ponca City.  Jo declined moving there permanently, but did spent weeks there completing statues of E. W., his daughter, Lyde standing holding a large garden bonnet; and son, George, in boots and riding breeches.  He also carved a seated  figure of E.W. Marland in marble which remains outside the museum a century later.

After completing the sculptures, E. W. Marland took Jo on a trip to California and back to New York in his private railroad car the “Ponca City.”  Jo wrote letters to Yvonne during the two-week excursion.  Jo met E. W.’s friends, and E.W. met Jo’s friends.  “The Trip, one of the richest experiences of my life, eventually was over, and I set out for Europe where political developments were moving at a rapid pace.”  [Between …, pp. 210-220.] 

 


 

Hermon Atkins MacNeil

“Monument Man” 

  Photos of  his works from 1912 to 1929  

Hot Links to MacNeil Sculptures follow …

Visit these links for further information on these ststues and monuments:

1912 – 1929

SOURCES:

  1. F. J. Mather argued that “Post-Impressionism is merely the harbinger of universal anarchy.” [1913, March 6, “Newest Tendencies in Art,” Independent 74, pp.504-512.] Cited in, On The Margins Of Art Worlds, By Larry Gross  p. ?
  2. Kuhn, Lois Harris. The World of Jo Davidson. Farrar, Straus and Cudhay: New York, 1958.  p. 86 -87.
  3. Marland Museum:  https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2013/the-american-west-in-bronze/blog/posts/pioneer-woman
  4. Here’s a 2010 Update on this Story:  2010 Ponca City duplicates 12 models:https://oklahoman.com/article/3455825/ponca-city-welcomes-back-one-dozen-pioneer-women

Related Images:

WHAT YOU FIND HERE.

Here is ONE place to go to see sculpture of Hermon A. MacNeil & his students. Located in cities from east to west coast, found indoors and out, public and private, these creations point us toward the history and values that root Americans.

Daniel Neil Leininger ~ HAMacNeil@gmail.com
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WE DESIRE YOUR DIGITAL PHOTOS – Suggestions

1. Take digital photos of the work from all angles, including setting.
2. Take close up photos of details that you like
3. Look for MacNeil’s signature. Photograph it too! See examples above.
4. Please, include a photo of you & others beside the work.
5. Tell your story of adventure. It adds personal interest.
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